Toronto Raptors Speedster Sonny Weems Is Stepping Up

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IApril 14, 2010

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 23:  Sonny Weems #13 of the Arkansas Razorbacks dribble drives the lane against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2nd round of the East Regional of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at RBC Center on March 23, 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Tar Heels defeated the Razorbacks 108-77. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

But for 55 minutes of play last year in Denver, Sonny Weems would be the Raptors best rookie wing player in recent memory. And Weems play of late should have him labeled as one the NBA’s up and coming young players.

Weems came into this season as an unknown former college senior “project” player.  Buried deep on the bench behind:

  1. The Raptors rookie, DeMar DeRozan;
  2. The Raptors free agent acquisition, Hedo Turkoglu;
  3. The fifth year veteran, Antone Wright;
  4. The Bryan Colangelo favorite, Marco Belinelli; and even,
  5. Jarrett Jack, who was expected to soak up minutes at both guard positions.

It took a while before Sonny Weems even saw “garbage time”.

But once Sonny Weems broke into the rotation, it became increasingly difficult to keep him nailed to the bench.

It has been quite some time since the Raptors have had a young wing player with the size, speed, composure, and finishing ability of Sonny Weems.

In his 17 games as starter this season,  Weems has averaged 28.4 minutes and:

  1. provided 11.7 points per game;
  2. shot 55.2 percent from the field;
  3. made 77 percent of his free throws;
  4. collected 4.2 rebounds per game;
  5. passed for an average 2.0 assists; and,
  6. picked up 0.9 steals and 0.3 blocks per game.

Those are impressive statistics for a player in his first real season in the league. At least from a Raptors perspective.

And Weems' statistics as a starter do make him comparable to Terrence Williams or James Harden.

Sonny Weems has not looked like the typical rookie “deer-in-the-headlights” and there is no questioning his effort.

This is not to say Weems’ play doesn’t have some holes in it. He still plays defense like a rookie at times, but he plays it with energy and enthusiasm.

It is not unusual to see Weems finishing at the basket and then being the first Raptors player at the other end of the court defending the fast break.

“…as a physical specimen, Sonny Weems tested out superior to his younger competition in many areas.”

“First, Sonny Weems is fast. At the NBA draft camp testing, Weems completed the 3/4 court sprint in under three seconds, a full 10 percent faster than DeRozan.”

DeMar DeRozan vs Sonny Weems

And not just faster than DeRozan, Sonny Weems had the fastest 3/4 court sprint of any guard in the last five years recorded in NBA draft camp testing.  per

Weems was tested faster than Chris Paul by a quarter of a second and Rodney Stuckey by 0.15  of a second. In fact, Draftexpress records no guard except Sonny Weems has completed the 3/4 court sprint test in under three seconds in recent years.

Just like height, you cannot teach speed.

Sonny Weems got his chance to start on a regular basis late in the season. Mostly because his friend DeMar was causing real problems defensively and the team was losing.

At 23 years-old, Sonny Weems has the “maturity” advantage over his younger competitor for minutes.  But as often seems to be forgotten, 23 is not old. There is still a lot of development to look forward to in Sonny Weems' game.

One has to wonder just how much better Weems statistics this year could have been if he had been starting instead of DeRozan? But quite literally, no one saw this coming.


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